LIGHT – a film by Caroline Treadway »

Finally someone started talking about this. Finally someone is also voicing these hard-to-ignore benefits like, “It feels so amazing when you feel so light, like water flowing over the rock”, which make it so easy and so desirable to go down that road. Because everyone who really cares does it.

It’s part of the game.

It means you commit. You send. You get better. Seemingly, your worth increases. Only every day, you feel more shit. You are not “playful”. You don’t give a shit if climbing is fun, you’ve got to get your training done. It pisses you off when the others don’t stay focused.
I’ve done my hardest sends when I felt most terrible and most shit. How sad is that?

People cannot understand why I don’t want to see anything about Alex Megos or Margo Hayes’ latest redpoint or Sasha diGiulian; don’t get me started. Well, it’s easy. Every one of these posts is just yelling “your are worthless” in my face. And since I am already struggling with that, I don’t need that extra bit of tinder. So, no. I don’t want to hear about who climbed what. I am not able to feel happy for people who are not my closest friends, without feeling shit myself in turn.

I am afraid that as long as Angela Eiter is top of the world, all everyone sees is, “having a serious eating disorder is a requirement to climb hard”. “You want to climb 9b? Go lose weight before you even think about it”.

Yes, maybe I’m just jealous.

Maybe I’m just angry that last time I was (not nearly) that thin, I wasn’t strong enough to stay there. But even though I hate it, it probably did me good. And even though there are a lot of days when I wish I could go back there, and hate myself for having put on weight, I tell myself every time: Don’t. You are so much happier now. You were miserable back then. It’s not worth it.
But there’s a side in me of course, who never believes that. Who sees this as just another excuse to stuff my face with porridge and cream.
I am not cured. I am just trying, like everyone else. And we haven’t even begun to talk about using the danger in climbing as an unhealthy coping mechanism for feeling worthless. (It’s not helping. It just makes that belief stronger.) But the sketchy ascents you make on chossy rock when you are feeling low.

I’ve had stretches of this burning energy

that made me run through pitches as though they were nothing. As though they were well-protected 5bs. But is it healthy? No. Did I have it under control? I thought so, at least. Because having things under control is what I do. It’s what I love about climbing. But looking back on these times, they feel more out of control than anything else.

I am not one of these pro climbers.

I don’t do 7c multi-pitches, 8a trad ascents, or any hard sport ascents, not even by regional standard. I hate bouldering, in fact. But this way of seeing it is exactly the problem. It’s what weighs me down. Climbing can be such a free, “weightless” -haha- activity, but comparing myself to others is the obvious thing to do; and the pressure of that puts such a great weight on me, that there have been times when I hated climbing. I often do, in fact. It’s not like I would ever, ever consider stopping. Climbing has been a part of my life since I was a kid. And I’m good at it. That’s why I do it. And often I enjoy doing it.

But it is never a matter of choice.

I am a climber. I go climbing. And it is not separable from measuring my self-worth. Maybe in twenty years I will feel differently, but then I’ll have age as an excuse for not performing at my best.

Do I have an answer? No. I am struggling every time I go climbing to feel okay when there are others at the crag, who are so much better than me. I don’t believe anyone who says they are just climbing for the fun of it. That they prefer to climb 6bs because it’s more enjoyable. Who are they trying to convince?
Actually I enjoy climbing 6a and 6b, maybe it gives me more joy than projecting 7b. Not maybe. I know it does. But every time I say something like that, it feels like a lie in my mouth. Of course I would want to climb harder. And I hate myself for not trying. For not training properly. For not wanting it enough, apparently, to really give it everything. It feels like just a euphemism for saying “I’m not strong enough.”
“I enjoy climbing low grades.” “I don’t care about grades.” Bla bla bla.

Shut up already!

You are a part of this. And by pretending you don’t care about grades, you keep it all going, because no-one speaks about the pressure that so many people feel. Of course I would so much prefer to be that girl in the 8a trying hard.
I’ve been that girl, once or twice. But at the same time, I never was. Because, probably, she doesn’t exist. I can only guess, because people do not speak about this, but who ever feels that they are enough? Who ever feels like they are that strong girl in the route next to you? Maybe for a second, when they’ve sent that route that felt impossible before. But it lasts for a day. A week, if you’re lucky, and not so malnourished that everything is dark always anyway. And then you’re back in that hole.

I’m also aware that some of you probably want to hit me in turn, because to some people, I might already be that kind of climber.
I am moderately trained, but well-fed. I can climb 7c if I want to. And I bet there’s loads of people out there climbing lower grades, who struggle with the same shitload of

feelings of self-hate, not-worthy and never-good-enough.

And I am absolutely sure that it feels just as shitty for you as it does for me, as it does for people like Angela Eiter. You may be projecting 6b and still the things you feel are exactly the same. I don’t have an answer, but maybe talking about it can help us find one.